Air Fresheners Tied To Asthma, Allergies

Air fresheners and chemicals involved in home fragrance delivery, are being linked to asthma and allergies. Doctors should be aware of the hazards of these products to certain patients, said MSNBC.

“The chemicals in some of these products can trigger the nasal congestion, sneezing and the runny nose,” said Dr. Stanley Fineman, an allergist with Emory University and the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic, reported MSNB. “With the asthmatics, there’s really good data showing their lung function changes when they’re exposed to these compounds,” Dr. Fineman added. Dr. Fineman hopes to raise patient and physician awareness regarding the dangers of air fresheners and related chemicals, said MSNBC. Dr. Fineman is the incoming president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and spoke on November 6th at the group’s Boston meeting.

“A lot of patients say that they don’t correlate an increase of their symptoms with exposure,” Dr. Fineman told MSNBC’s MyHealthNewsDaily. “One of the things that I’m trying to do in my talk is make our members, the allergists that are in practice, more aware of this problem,” he added. Dr. Fineman pointed out that products including “air fresheners, scented candles, plug-in deodorizers, and wick diffusers” are being used with more frequency, wrote MSNBC.

“People who have asthma, a large number of them are chemically sensitive, and therefore find fragrant products irritating,” said Stanley Caress, a professor in the department of environmental studies at the University of West Georgia, according to MSNBC. “Most commercial perfume products, even air fresheners, have chemical make-ups and therefore are potential irritants,” noted Caress. Products such as scented candles and air fresheners may emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that include formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, limonene, and other substances, wrote USA Today. VOCs can increase asthma risks in children and can lead to eye and respiratory irritation and other health problems.

A 2009 study conducted by Caress and Anne Steinenmann at the University of Washington revealed that about one-third asthmatics also suffer from chemical hypersensitivity; more than one-third reported suffering from irritation due to exposure to scented products, MSNBC wrote. “The more you’re around, the more likely it is to cause an attack,” Caress said. “People with asthma, many of them should try to avoid artificially fragranced products,” Caress suggested, wrote MSNBC. Caress pointed out that her advice can apply to so-called “natural” products. “Some people have natural allergies to things like wood, so they might have trouble with things like that as well,” he said, reported MSNBC.

According to USA Today, about 40-to-50 million Americans suffer from asthma or other allergies, with the disorders on the rise. Asthma has tripled in the past 25 years and impacts over 22 million people. Experts are not sure on what is causing the increase, said USA Today; however, home products such as air fresheners and scented candles could be to blame. “I’ve been seeing more and more adults who are having problems with air fresheners,” said Dr. Fineman. “They’re coming in with all kinds of symptoms,” including sneezing, congestion, headache, coughing, fatigue, and asthma, Dr. Fineman explained, said USA Today.

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